Thoughts on Creating Space
It seems so simple, so fundamental, yet we all struggle to create the space in our lives necessary to learn, grow, and expand. I believe everything begins here.
Context first. I am a leader. I am a coach. I believe that the only way to be a great leader and a great coach is to be a great human being. I work every day to become better than I was the day before. Some days I am. Others, well, I’m human.
Some more relevant context…If I were to zoom out and try to see myself on the surface, I would see a 35 year old white, privileged male, lucky enough to live in a one bedroom Miami bayshore high rise and hold a corporate job that pays me pretty well.
Zooming in a bit deeper, and more pertinent to where this and my future writings are coming from, I am a dude with a fucked up family, who learned the hard way that the only way to not live my life as a total douchebag would be to actually put some effort into being a half way decent human being. My two core values are integrity and understanding.
My process, as I write today, has me working deliberately to create the necessary space in my life to live more wholly and maintain the presence necessary to keep learning about myself and others.
I am writing this because I am working to become a more conscious human. I believe this will enable me to be a better partner, a better coach, and a better leader. I am writing this for me. Thank you for joining me in my reflection and my growth process.
Here Is Where You Come In
Let’s reflect together for a moment.
My guess is that you’re sitting down and reading this. As you sit, think to yourself for a second and ask, “do I want to be a better person?” If the answer is any form of “no” you can stop here. You suck.
If you’re not a complete asshat and nodded or actually verbalized “yes”, take a second to close your eyes and picture what being better looks like.
Seriously, try closing your eyes (won’t be the first time I suggest this either), take a deep breath, and picture a better you for however long you need.
When you open your eyes, perhaps jot down or open your notes app to type a couple of things that came to mind. No one is going to read this so hopefully that helps you not to be an asshole and write some fake, performative bullshit down.
One of the most important parts of being better, is being radically honest, first and foremost, with yourself. What does being a better human look like to you? Don’t compare yourself to anyone else either. This is between you today, the less experienced you yesterday, and the better you tomorrow.
Now That You’re Totally Enlightened…
And since you’re clearly still reading this (virtual high five), you’re down to at least consider joining me on this journey to figuring this “being better” thing out. What you should also know is that it isn’t an easy process and being human, we will be far from perfect at it. What I have come to find certainty in is that getting better at something requires a deliberate approach and deliberate practice.
It all comes down to actually giving a shit about yourself being better. Actually being aware that you can and need to be better, then doing something about it on purpose is deliberate self-awareness. Actually asking yourself the hard, honest questions to determine what may be holding you back is deliberate inquiry. Actually working on the things that you deem worthy of your energy to improve on is deliberate practice.
I’ve surrendered to this idea that being better isn’t any kind of end goal, it is a life-long, every day deliberate process that is my responsibility to pursue in hopes of being a more conscious, less shitty person.
Fortunately for me, there are a lot of really smart, experienced, and vulnerable people out there who have studied, written, and shared their learnings. The deliberate self is going to be the focus of my process. Over time, my intention is to write as much as I can about what I have taken from these learnings and how they apply to my work to become better.
The First Step Toward a Deliberate Self
For now, I want to start with what I believe is the first step: Creating space. For me, I had to first discover the space in me and in the immediate world around me to begin the learning and self awareness journey. Once found, every next step, every failure, every subsequent discovery required some form of space to move forward.
Funny thing about space… it’s everywhere. Just look around. Look within. Space is everywhere. What is fucking crazy for me is that it’s been in context of the absence of space in key areas of my life that has led me to understand its importance:
- Missing space between how I see my past and present self.
- Longing for space to think for myself, rather than the role-self others have put me in.
- Frantic for space in the tension that builds in me as anxiety and stress impact my emotions.
- Fear of space in my relationship, necessary for both individual and mutual growth.
- Even the painful lack of space between my joints and muscles after sitting at my desk for a few hours.
Space can be both everywhere, and, at the exact same same time, the vital thing that is ever-missing before growth can start.
I was thinking of making another list of places where deliberately creating space is key but the hypocrisy of publishing a list that you didn’t have the space to add in your own examples was too much. Instead, I’ll try something else.
When I give the cue, please take another moment to close your eyes and imagine an area of your life that is missing space.
Quick aside — we’re going to close our eyes a lot on this journey, its called “looking inward”. Get used to it.
Maybe you have boundary issues with your parents or in-laws? A busy project at work? A messy room in your house or a cluttered desk? The guy next to you on the airplane? A spouse who doesn’t listen to you the way you wish they did? (See, a list would have been dumb, options are pretty open-ended here.)
OK, for one minute close your eyes again and start to imagine.
When you open your eyes, digest what you just thought about. First of all, did you even allow yourself the space to close your eyes for 60 seconds? Or did you get distracted and open them? Take note of that. Also take note of the other things you came up with that are missing space.
Want to know something pretty sweet? Even if you opened your eyes early, the simple attempt just allowed you to create space in your mind to think about, yup, you guessed it: SPACE!
Now that you have this glorious space space you are able to create even more to start thinking about what that area of life would be like if you brought space into it.
You can imagine stronger boundaries with parents or in-laws, less stress or pressure on that work project, a clean room or desk, an empty middle seat and some leg room, or feeling heard/seen/understood by your spouse. I don’t know what you thought of in your minute (or 15 seconds) of having your eyes closed but I am guessing that bringing little room to operate more clearly in that thing is starting to sound pretty fucking great.
Before Filling That Space, Seek To Create More.
We often hear how important self-awareness is in the growth process, and don’t get me wrong, it totally is. But awareness requires space first. In his book Reboot, Jerry Colonna writes about “Learning to Stand Still.” He says “every wisdom tradition I’ve encountered ultimately teaches the same thing: slow down and face the demons.”
As I pursue a path of becoming a better human, it is clear that the ability to deliberately slow down and deliberately create space in the areas of my life that are causing me to feel tension is the foundation of any growth to follow.
Creating space is where I decided to start my writing, leadership, coaching, and self development process. I am guessing I will come back to it often as a core component of my practice and path. I am a leader. I am a coach. I am a human being trying to be a better human being. I need the space to seek, find, and reflect on what that entails.
This is a life long learning process that I plan to continue exploring and sharing. Take some time to deliberately create some space for yourself. Let’s see what happens next.